It seems like the Zika virus is in the news a lot lately. With at least nine confirmed cases in Florida, Zika can cause birth defects in babies and can also cause a whole host of other uncomfortable symptoms like fevers, rashes, joint pain and red eyes. It can be spread through mosquito bites and can also be sexually transmitted, but the biggest threat is posed to pregnant women and young children.
So how do you keep a family in Florida, what seems to be the mosquito center of the country, safe from bites? It may seem a little bit scary or confusing when you try to learn how to keep your kids safe from mosquitos– especially when you are trying to look for natural remedies. Fortunately, there are safer alternatives to keeping your kids, and yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes that just staying inside 24 hours a day.
First Steps to prevent Zika and Other Bites
One of the easiest ways to prevent Zika, or any bite for that matter, is to limit the amount of skin exposed. Since it is transmitted through mosquito bites, it is important to take precautions against mosquitoes. Remember: Since Florida tends to stay warmer in the fall and winter, mosquitoes don’t typically go away once summer ends.
If mosquitoes become a big problem in your backyard or neighborhood, make sure that there is no still water around as that’s where mosquitoes breed. If that doesn’t solve the problem, contact the Public Works Department Mosquito Control and they will treat your yard or neighborhood for FREE. Contact them at (813) 635-5400
You can also avoid mosquitoes if you stay away from wearing dark colors as mosquitoes are attracted to darker colored clothing.
The CDC also recommends:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Natural Bug Repellent
While the CDC recommends that you use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registeredinsect repellents, you still will want to make sure that there are no harmful chemicals like DEET. No matter what insect repellent you use, it is important to make sure that you re-apply often and that you remember to still use regular sunscreen.
Many parents choose to make their own insect repellent, which can be much better when it comes to knowing what you are putting on your child’s skin. While we want to protect them from Zika, we also don’t want to panic and douse their body’s largest organ, the skin, with chemicals that will get into their blood and harm them in the long run.
There are several oils that can repel bugs, including: Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Lemon Eucalyptus, Cedarwood, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Peppermint, Basil, Rose Geranium, Cinnamon Oil, Thyme, Lemon, Orange, Pine– however it is important never to apply these oils directly to the skin.
Each oil repels a different type of bug, so if your children are getting frequent mosquito bites, they should use citronella, lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, catnip, basil, clove, thyme, lemongrass, geranium, lavender. If they are getting flea bites around their ankles while playing in the grass, they should use cedarwood, citronella, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, lemongrass, lavender, orange, and pine.
The blend that I use repels bugs and helps to heal existing bites. All you do is fill the rollerball container or spray bottle 2/3 full with a carrier oil or distilled water. Then add 5-10 drops of eucalyptus, citronella and lavender to repel the bugs. To help cleanse bug bites, add 3-5 drops of tea tree oil. The lavender and tea tree also work together to heal bites and stop itching. I also apply this to my pet’s collars so that bugs will leave them alone as well.If you choose to create your own blend based on the different bugs in your area, be sure to use a carrier oil and a few different oils (for example, if you want to kill mosquitos, use both peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender).
Fit Organic Mosquito Repellent: http://www.fitorganic.com/products/fit-organic-6-76-oz-mosquito-repellent
Kite Shield Repeller: http://www.kiteproducts.com
Terra Sheild by DoTerra: https://doterra.com/US/en/p/terrashield-spray-oil
Plants that repel Mosquitoes: http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/wellbeing/8-plants-repel-mosquitos-naturally
Quick Tips to Remember
If you have a baby or child:
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
- Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
- Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
- Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
- If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
- Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
If you suspect that you may have Zika, seek medical attention immediately.